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Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010

HAVE YOUR SAY

Re: Richard Cory's story

A selection of readers' views on "Battling a broken system" (Zeit Gist, Sept. 21) and "Behind the facade of family law" (Zeit Gist, Sept. 28), both by Richard Cory:

We have no voice

Thanks for publishing the long article in two parts on "the facade of family law" in Japan by Richard Cory. I myself have gone through precisely the same nightmare, as have so many others I have met and spoken to via get-together groups such as Left Behind Parents Japan, etc.

Child abduction in Japan is rife. I wrote a letter to The Japan Times back in May, about a month and a half after my Japanese wife abducted my children. Six months later, I have not seen them since.

Like Richard Cory, I have discovered that there is simply no other way to get my children back except by abducting them myself. However, I do not have their passports, nor do I think that the British Embassy (my children and and I are British) would give us sanctuary if I took them there.

Unlike Richard's 13-year-old daughter, Michiko, who escaped, at only 9 and 6 (years old), my two daughters are far too young to escape of their own accord. Meanwhile they are certainly being brainwashed — their mother will not let them watch TV, use a computer or listen to the music they have loved since birth. I do not know whether they have heard a word of English since they were taken away.

Also, like Richard Cory, I hand-raised my kids with children's books, music, stories, weekends away, holidays and so on. They were fluent in English and have English names. They do not even have a Japanese middle name; I gave both my girls my mother's middle name.

Please consider what happens when a child is abducted in Japan. Her father, her father's family, her home, her daddy's car — all these gradually become a memory that is overwhelmed by an overbearing mother and endless Japanese schoolwork.

I am tired of dealing with simpletons. I can make allowance for inadequate individuals at work and out on the streets, and I let my wife be herself for 15 years, but I draw the line at letting simpletons destroy my children. My children are highly intelligent, talented, artistic, inquisitive, beautiful little girls, and I want them back.

If hundreds — and the number is in the hundreds — of American and other nations' children were abducted by Iran, for example, that would be seen as cause for war on Iran. I want a war on child abduction in Japan.

There are plenty of angry left-behind parents in Japan or who are still connected to Japan in their efforts from abroad, and we have no voice.

ALEX KAHNEY
Tokyo

A one-sided, offensive rant

I read The Japan Times every day, as I enjoy being up to date with what's going on in Japan.

Generally, I am happy with the standard of journalism of the paper, but I have just read what can only be called a rant by Richard Cory ("Battling a broken system").

I'm writing to tell you that I'm disappointed with your decision to publish it. It was an utterly one-sided, biased account of the incident that did not belong in a newspaper. That sort of thing belongs on his private blog. A newspaper is supposed to represent a variety of sides of a story so that readers make up their own minds. I realize that this was an Op-Ed piece, but an Op-Ed piece is not supposed to be a personal rant. Divorce and child custody are personal, emotive issues that cannot be discussed impartially by those involved.

His article has the potential to harm domestic violence shelters because of the sweeping generalizations he made about them. He also made some extremely offensive comments about women needing to have "visible bruises" before they seek help. In a country where domestic violence — both physical and emotional — is a dire problem, these sorts of comments are deplorable.

There are far more women in need of the support that shelters give them than there are men whose wives abduct their children.

That's not to say child abduction is not a very serious problem that needs attention. But surely it's possible to deal with this sensitive issue a little more evenhandedly.

EMMA DALTON
Wollongong, Australia

U.S. bill offers fathers hope

I've had two children taken from my home in the United States into Japan never to hear from them again. They've been gone since May 13, 2007. Now that the United States Congress has passed the bill H. Res. 1326, I'm hoping I can one day see my children again.

I pray for them daily and they are always on my mind, every day of my life. Thank you for publishing this struggle of a father who loves his children and the deplorable situation that is occurring in Japan.

Here is a link to H. Res. 1236, passed recently in Congress addressing the issue of Japan and child abduction: thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.RES.1326:

D. BRIAN GESSLEMAN

Restraint is commendable

Everything that happened in this article led me to leave Japan with my wife and children and return to America. I don't plan on getting divorced, but if I do I refuse to allow the family courts in Japan to take my children away from me.

It now seems that I must also be wary of the shelters for domestic violence in Japan. It is sad that I don't find this hard to believe at all. When is Japan going to revise its Draconian legal system that supports these parents who abduct their children? Shame on you Japan.

I would like to commend the author for his restraint. If a shelter were holding my children against their will and they were in physical danger, I wouldn't wait for the embassy or the courts to sort it out. I would take my children from that shelter by force if need be, and heaven help anyone who'd try to prevent me from doing so.

AN ANGERED FATHER

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